Theatre UCF opens the classic musical The Fantasticks on Thursday at the campus’ Main Stage theater.
The Fantasticks is the longest-running production in the history of American theatre. It is an intimate show with an ensemble cast. Director Be Boyd is staging the production as if a troupe of traveling actors, “The Vagabond Players,” is presenting the play to the UCF audience.
The musical tells the tale of two young neighbors, Matt and Luisa, and their meddlesome parents, Hucklebee and Bellomy. The parents devise a complicated plan for their children to fall in love, which involves a professional kidnapper and a troupe of actors, but the plans go awry, leaving the young lovers to clean up the mess.
“I thought it would be an interesting idea to have traveling actors ‘perform’ the story of The Fantasticks, says Boyd. “The characters in The Fantasticks are larger than life archetypes of some of the characters we experience in life—the young lovers; the over protective, yet well-meaning parents; the heroes; the villains; the class clowns and the classic storyteller—heard in so many of the wonderful fairy tales we all grew up with. And creating a company of actors who play the ‘characters’ in the play gives actors the opportunity to have fun with some of the heightened comedy in the script, clearly borrowed from Commedia dell’ arte, as well as the melodramatic moments borrowed from traditional love stories. Before the show begins, the audience will have an opportunity to meet “The Vagabond Players” and learn a bit about the company.”
The roles of Matt and Luisa are being performed by Salvatore Vieira and Leigh Green. Though both are just finishing their freshman year at UCF, they are veterans of the Main Stage. Vieira performed the role of Fakir in last fall’s production of Side Show, and Green was Thea in the spring production of Spring Awakening. The roles of the parents will be performed by faculty members Earl D. Weaver and Tara Snyder.
El Gallo, who sings the show-opening tune “Try to Remember,” will be performed by Music major Hunter Curry. Theatre majors Tyler Houck and Devan Seaman perform the roles of Henry and the Mute. Understudy Patrick Mounce, a junior in the BFA Acting program, will be stepping into the role of Mortimer.
“I was ready for the role, but still nervous,” says Mounce, “because I was afraid to disturb the momentum of the cast who has been rehearsing already. But I’m really excited to have the time on stage. And Be has been great about letting me have my own take on the character.
“I was cast as the understudy for all five male roles, so I had to do a lot of homework. At first I was very scared, when I realized I basically needed to memorize the entire script. But I talked to a couple of people who had done swing on Broadway and they were very encouraging and gave me good advice.”
“Being an understudy is a really cool experience, because not only do you get to witness all of the rehearsals, but you learn to appreciate understudies and the hard work they do. I think all of our students should have to be an understudy at least once. The lessons you learn, the confidence you learn from being an understudy is invaluable. It’s not all glitz and glam, you have to work hard, so that you aren’t caught on stage unprepared.”
The Fantasticks will run from June 27-July 21, in repertory with Theatre UCF’s other summer production Boeing Boeing. It is recommended to arrive early for this production, as there will be pre-show entertainment. Also, for the first time, this summer patrons are welcome to enjoy a beverage while in the theaters.
Production at a glance:
Book and lyrics by Tom Jones
Music by Harvey Schmidt
Directed by Be Boyd
8 p.m.: June 27, 28, 29 July 11, 13, 19
2 p.m.: June 30, July 21
There will be a remount of the production Aug. 22-Sept. 1.
Theatre UCF Main Stage
Price: Standard $20, Senior $18, Student $10; Group discounts available
Address: 4000 Central Florida Blvd.
Box Office Phone: 407-823-1500
Box Office Hours: Monday through Friday: noon to 5 p.m., and 2 hours before performances
For more information about Theatre UCF, visit http://theatre.ucf.edu.